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"So special": Minnesotans gleefully welcome back July 4th events after pandemic

Minneapolis metro celebrates Independence Day
Minneapolis metro celebrates Independence Day 01:50

AFTON, Minn. -- This was the kind of traffic jam people have been waiting for.

"I love the marching bands," Katrina Ausmus told WCCO as she held her baby daughter, Violet. "This is a celebration of being able to be together again."

Ausmus grew up in Cottage Grove and currently lives in Indiana, but she and her husband always make a pilgrimage back to Minnesota for July 4th to attend the Afton Independence Day Parade, an event that returned today for the first time since 2019. Thousands of people lined Main Street in Afton, where a parade of bands, old cars, firetrucks and jug bands serenaded the senses.

"I missed being with people more than anything," she said. "Being without this togetherness was detrimental to a lot of people. This is sparking a lot of nostalgia for old memories and old things we always used to do and we're finally able to do those things again."

Though other July 4th events continued to take place through the pandemic, many went virtual or heavily slimmed down their offerings, including kids' activities.

In St. Paul's Langford, pony rides and carnival games were finally back on the schedule - along with a full block of food trucks.

"We're here to fill our bellies," Kyle Feiner quipped to WCCO. "This is great."

Feiner's wife, Rebecca, said she was thrilled to see her four kids enjoy the 4th with a sense of independence from the pandemic.

"They've been affected so much over the last few years."

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